An hour after the Senate acquitted President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, about a hundred demonstrators gathered in Dilworth Plaza to protest what they called a “sham."
The “Reject the Coverup" rally, organized by the Action Network, was one of more than 200 demonstrations nationwide that had been set for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. It originally was prompted by the Senate’s vote on Friday to block consideration of new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial.
“We are here because Trump is guilty,” one organizer bellowed to a crowd holding signs with messages such as “An acquittal is the same as a cover up” and “Trump for prison."
The group chanted “Trump, Pence out now” and “Trump is guilty” as they marched down Broad and Walnut Streets before returning to Dilworth. Their cries were often drowned out by the honks of frustrated commuters, and one counterprotester who followed the group shouting: “Four more years!”
“Despite the fact that we knew this would happen, it’s inconceivable nonetheless,” said Ann Peters, a Philadelphian who had “No more lies + corruption” painted on the back of her coat.
“Today, our representatives were willing to fly in the face of the truth,” said Peters, a 64-year-old archaeologist. “The people working for the American people are willing to destroy our future.”
Congress impeached Trump in December, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but conviction in the Senate had been unlikely from the beginning, given the Republican majority there.
On Wednesday afternoon, both charges fell short of the two-thirds majority, or 67, required by the Constitution to convict. The first count, abuse of power, was rejected 48-52, with one Republican, Mitt Romney, voting to convict; the second, obstruction of Congress, was defeated, 47-53, along party lines.
“I’m not usually somebody that protests,” said Keith Sottung, 54, of Fishtown. “But I wanted to be here for the head count, to show that there needs to be more concern about this."
“The acquittal today is devastating to the future and shows that a president can solicit foreign help in elections without being held accountable,” he added.
Jim Stewart had a sign with the number “349,” which he said was the countdown to Jan. 19, which he hopes would be Trump’s last full day in office.
“Hopefully we have enough time to make a difference,” said the 75-year-old from National Park, Gloucester County. “I’m trying to make things right and get our democracy back.”